I came into SMT4 with my SMT experience being already filled with by Persona 3 and 4. It's tough for me to appreciate the mainline SMT franchise considering that I entered it with the more casual Persona games. Saying Persona and casual in the same sentence will probably get me crucified by some angry Persona fans but when compared to SMT it's certainly justified. From various forum threads I've noticed a sort of childish rivalry between mainline SMT fans and Persona fans. It's still a silly fanboy rage-fest most of the time but in between the shit I've noticed some valid arguments for both franchises. The SMT games are a lot more darker than the Persona games as they focus more on post-apocalyptic stories. Persona 3 has some dark stuff in it but it isn't as dark as SMT is most of the time. Persona is more like Final Fantasy with party members and usually has a lighter tone(I can't speak for Persona 1 and 2 since I haven't played them). Both games are grindy but SMT has been deemed to be the most difficult by fans. All of this preamble is to let you know that I'm new to SMT and I finally decided to try out Shin Megami Tensei 4.
I'm happy to report that I've enjoyed my 20 hour adventure in SMT4 so far(I'll admit that I tried to play SMT4 during bedtime but actually feel asleep for around 7 hours so the hour count is a lie). Much of the combat is like the Persona games without the 4 party member dynamic and other things that most fans know about. Most notably the thing that has been messing with me the most is that Zan is Garu in this game. The combat is a lot more difficult due to the fact that in any battle a demon can one shot you by just attacking you with your weakness. Thus it gives them another turn and I soon have to pay another ample amount of play coins to that old jerk. I won't admit to being motivated to run a lot more due to this old guys' antics. Besides dying a whole lot I've just liked how quick fights usually are. I stop playing most JRPGs due to how slow turn-based combat can be at times. That's why I love games like Tales of games and more. I also actually play this game on the bus which is something that I rarely do. Having a big RPG like SMT 4 on the has been neat due to being able to play it each day for a couple of minutes instead of just staying at home and playing it for far too long.
My main complaints come with the story which hasn't interested me for a long time. The whole Samurai universe is not that exciting. The characters also aren't all that fleshed out which is disappointing so far. I'm sure they'll get better but the game hasn't given much scenes to let these characters grow. The only real emotional response I can give is to hope that Navarre is dead or something much worse. Seriously, fuck that guy. My favorite characters have been the demons which I didn't expect. Some lines of dialogue are just so weird that I've been laughing at how ludicrous the process of gathering demons is. My favorite line is probably "Are you a monkey? "Indeed" Great! I always wanted a monkey pal!" The whole process of talking to demons is so obtuse as to finding out what makes certain demons tick. Most of the time they're jerks so be careful when talking to demons. They can kill you at any time and they'll let you know that constantly during talks. THE ABSOLUTE WORST THING ABOUT IT IS GIVING DEMONS WHAT THEY WANT AND THEN THEY JUST SUDDENLY LEAVE! FUCK DEMONS!!
I've mostly just been listening to the battle theme over and over so you should to! I'm having a great time with SMT4 in general. My favorite parts are gathering demons and fusing them. It's still a great system that rewards me for my hard work. I also have to say that the game looks great in the third person mode. I'm glad that they went with this instead of having it in first person mode. I'm to finally be playing another big JRPG! I love these huge games and I can't wait to keep playing it. Here's hoping that the bosses don't keep fucking me up over and over again!! I need my play coins old man!